Monday , November 09, 2009
A manager at a Massachusetts retail store claims he was unjustly fired after he told a colleague he thought her impending marriage to another woman was wrong.
Peter Vadala, 24, told FoxNews.com he was terminated in August from his position as second deputy manager at a Brookstone store at Boston's Logan Airport after a conversation he had with a manager from another Brookstone store who was visiting the location.
Vadala claims the woman, whom he declined to identify, mentioned four times that she had married her partner. He said he then left the store briefly to visit the airport's chapel before returning.
"I found it offensive that she repeatedly brought it up," Vadala said. "By the fourth time she mentioned it, I felt God wanted me to express how I felt about the matter, so I did. But my tone was downright apologetic. I said, 'Regarding your homosexuality, I think that's bad stuff.'"
The woman, according to Vadala, then said, "Human resources, buddy — keep your opinions to yourself," before exiting the store.
Two days later, Vadala, who had been employed for just a matter of weeks, received a termination letter citing the company's zero-tolerance policy regarding "harassment" and "inappropriate and unprofessional" comments.
"In the state of Massachusetts, same-sex marriage is legal and there will be people with whom you work with who have fiancées or spouses who are the same gender," the Aug. 12 letter read. "... While you are entitled to your own beliefs, imposing them upon others in the workplace is not acceptable and in this case, by telling a colleague that she is deviant and immoral, constitutes discrimination and harassment."
Vadala disputes using the words "deviant" and "immoral" during conversations with human resources employees on the matter.
"I did say I regard that lifestyle as deviant, as in deviating from the norm, but I never, ever said to that to the [manager]," he said. "In general, I believe people don't want to hear about controversial issues like that in the workplace. They shouldn't have to."
Vadala, who has not hired a lawyer, said he is considering filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In a statement issued to FoxNews.com, Brookstone President/CEO Ron Boire said a "thorough and fair investigation" had been completed in the matter.
"We do not comment on any specific personnel issues," the statement read. "However I will say that Brookstone is an equal opportunity employer, meaning that we maintain a healthy, safe and productive work environment free from discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability, or other factors that are unrelated to the Company’s legitimate business interests.
"We are proud of our diverse workforce of varying cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds."
Asked why he felt the need to comment on the woman's personal life, Vadala, who has since left the Boston area, said he felt compelled to do so.
"I see, like all real Christians, homosexuals as people who, like me, are sinners and need to be told the truth in a loving way," he said. "In this situation, I took issue with the behavior. I think it's lunacy to call that type of behavior marriage in any kind of form. I had to express that I'm intolerant of that behavior. It's a love-the-sinner, hate-the-sin kind of deal."
Vadala said he felt "intentionally goaded" by the manager to comment on her relationship.
"She knew how I felt about homosexuality," he said. "When you talk to someone about something like that, you want their support. She was kind of looking into my eyes for that social cue for me to say, 'I'm happy for you.' But I really couldn't feel happy for her."